Features — 17 February 2018
Who is responsible for the Larry Nassars?

Only a person living in a cave, or on the moon, hasn’t heard the disappointing story about the physical trainer in the United States who was convicted and sentenced to a couple hundred years in prison for molesting, in various ways, scores of young female athletes in the United States of America. Make no mistake, the convicted person in this case, Dr. Larry Nassar, a physician and professor who was employed at Michigan State University, is not alone. He is not the only male in this world playing masseur for young female athletes.

Yes, this man was employed, well, one of his jobs was, to massage the bodies of young females. I don’t know if we allow that in Belize, but I have read enough about America to know that they consider themselves more mature, more civilized, than everybody else. This is why they end up in this completely impossible story.

Dr. Nassar has a wife and three children so it is not likely he “registered” as a homosexual. Even if he had, there are many sober heterosexual parents who wouldn’t allow him to work with their daughters, especially when they have most of their clothes off. Many male heterosexuals believe that such exposure would “cure” the indifference that gay men show toward female flesh. No responsible parent or guardian with such thinking would allow Nassar’s activity, except maybe in an emergency.

Children are vulnerable people. Children do the bidding of adults whom they trust. An unscrupulous person can get children to do all kinds of uncivilized things. The kinds of minds who put children in situations where they can be victimized are not exempt from blame when criminal things are done to them. Such minds are products of a society which bends, makes truth to fit agendas.

There are proper ways for a male to approach young females. The first thing is that she must have all her clothes on.

The possibilities with public contracts

There is a Contractor-General Act in Chapter 3 of the Laws of Belize, Revised Edition 1980 – 1990. It is stated in this Act that the Contractor-General shall be appointed by the Governor-General, acting on the recommendations of both Houses of the National Assembly contained in resolutions passed in that behalf, that the person shall be appointed without regard to political affiliation and solely on the basis of integrity and demonstrated ability in various fields.

This Contractor General shall monitor the award and the implementation of public contracts with a view to ensuring that … contracts are awarded impartially and on merit. Among other things, the Contractor General shall see to it that there is no hanky-panky, that the implementation of contracts conforms to the terms of the contract.

This Contractor General shall, where necessary, investigate the selection of contractors, tender procedures relating to contracts awarded by public bodies … any allegation of fraud, mismanagement, waste or abuse involving public contracts, and so forth. Finally, in respect to their duties, among other things this Contractor General is bound to submit an annual report to the National Assembly, and they may at any time be required by the National Assembly to submit a report thereto in respect of any matter being investigated by him.

So, in Belize there is a Contractor General, and that person has an office to help him/her carry out his/her duties, which are, to ensure that the country of Belize gets the biggest possible bang for its buck. Are we? In this piece I am not going to try to answer that question. This piece is neither an endorsement nor an indictment of anyone. Incidentally, we don’t have a Contractor General presently. The past Contractor General, Mr. Godwin Arzu, served two 3-year terms, and was up to be rehired by the GoB, but his contract hit a little snag at the Senate. The story is that he had not been up to date in his reporting of his activities.

Whoa, just to make sure, so there isn’t any misunderstanding, this column is not about Mr. Arzu. This is about the possibilities of the job, the broad scope of the territory. It is, pretty expansive.

Government contracts are given out under a section called capital expenditure. These are the areas of government that are concerned with the building of roads, and roundabouts, and auditoriums, and bridges, and schools, and hospitals, and roundabouts.

In the approved 2015/16 budget, $97 million was allocated for Cap 2 expenditure, and $94 million was allocated for Cap 3 expenditure. If you lived in America you might snort, chump change, but in our little Belize this is good news.

If the Contractor General is honest, competent, diligent, all the good things we expect from an officer filling this essential post, we can expect that our millions will be spent efficiently. We cannot say wisely, because what we choose to spend our money on is a function of the National Assembly. If the government wants to spend a fortune on elitist projects, it is not the business of the Contractor General to say yea or nay.

The mantra in the office of the Contractor General who is about serving the best interests of Belize is efficiency. Applications for GoB’s contracts are scrutinized and, based solely on merit, a contract is awarded to a deserving contractor. That’s how the office of the Contractor General is designed.

We are familiar with the stipulation at the end of all advertisements put out for government contracts … the lowest or any tender will not necessarily be accepted. There are factors unrelated to cost that are considered by the Contractor General’s office when they are studying applications. For example, an applicant for a contract must also satisfy the Contractor General’s office that they are capable of carrying out the job to the level of established standards.

All that said, we can now begin to look at the possibilities with government contracts. We know that the Contractor General who is on the ball, one who is on the up and up, will have our back. There are no possibilities here for anything untoward. So we won’t waste any energy here. We will concern ourselves with the possibilities that exist when things are not as they should be, when the Contractor General’s office is under the control of the government, the kinds of contracts that we get then.

 We are familiar, well, we have heard about the insider contract. We know of a famous, wonderful lady in the USA, a favorite of all, Ms. Martha Stewart, who reportedly got caught up in insider trading (got non-public info about stocks which she used to her advantage) and ended up spending some months in prison. This is an obvious one. Some government agent who knows things, tells a favored person how to bid. This one is popular when GoB is selling off goods and equipment.

There is the “bid low we will make it up” contract. In this type of contract, a favored contractor is advised to put in a “too low to refuse” bid, one that makes the people very happy that they have a good thing going. Then, when there are shortfalls, as there absolutely will be, no problem, the GoB rushes in with the funds to make it all worthwhile for the one who won the prize.

There is the kickback contract. In this one the contractor bids high, wins, and shares the windfall with the persons or political party that blessed them. Ouch!

There is a lazy Ministry’s contract. In this one the Contractor General is instructed to award a contract to an applicant who the Minister believes can be trusted to get the job done with little to no supervision. That done, the Minister and the public servants in their Ministry have all the time in the world to go shopping in Miami or Chetumal with their spouses, or leave the job early in the afternoons for jaunts.

There, for the possibilities. Hmm, it may be that there are more possibilities for “contracts” wikidnis about. We should hope not.

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Deshawn Swasey

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